Dec 02 2012
Building #557 on up-and-coming Wat Bo Road used to be a popular pizzeria called Kholene, the demise of which left many a pizzaphile bereft. But their loss is the discerning tourist’s gain, as Maison 557, a chic and secluded new boutique hotel has slipped almost unnoticed onto the map of Siem Reap’s mid to high-end accommodation. It offers many of the comforts of a big brand hotel at a fraction of the cost and with a sense of exclusivity you won’t find at many five-star palaces.
Despite being one of the few buildings on Wat Bo Road to actually have a valid address, it’s easy to miss Maison 557 behind its discreet whitewashed walls and iron gates and hidden among the barber shops and hardware stores that share the busy street with trendy new bars and restaurants.
Once you penetrate the perimeter walls and iron gates you will be pleasantly surprised by the tranquil gardens and the understated elegance of what was allegedly the first building in the street not to be constructed of wood and palm. Built in 1952 by a French architect, the original building may be 60 years old, but the owners have created a comfortable and sophisticated small hotel which ticks all the modern traveller’s boxes, while maintaining the charm of what can best be described as a contemporary heritage building.
There are currently five large ensuite guest rooms arranged around two courtyard gardens where banana palms and mango trees grow, and polished concrete planters are filled with ornamental grasses and other myriad plants and shrubs. The shady courtyards are home to a good sized pool, furnished terraces and covered seating areas.
Rooms have cool tiled floors covered with rattan mats, and are comfortably furnished with king-sized beds dressed with white linens, and are adorned with quirky objects and local art, adding an individual touch to each room. All windows are screened to keep out the bugs and mosquitoes and have black-out curtains should you want to treat yourself to a decadent lie-in during your stay. Safes come as standard, as do WiFi, air-con and fans, and all bathrooms are spacious, equipped with large showers, personal “senteurs d’Angkor” toiletries and bath robes.
A breakfast of tropical fruits, yoghurt, home-made muesli, breads and pastries, eggs any style, fresh juices, and tea or coffee is included in the room rate, which ranges from $80 to $120 a night. The breakfast is served daily in the courtyard, unless you prefer your personal tray to be brought to your suite to enjoy in bed, or on your private terrace.
Deluxe rooms at $100 a night are larger than the $80 standards and have the added appeal of a romantic outdoor shower. The garden suite is the largest room, and boasts a truly capacious bathroom and huge stone shower. It is the only room to face onto the street so can be subject to some street noise — better to sacrifice size and choose a different room if you are a light sleeper. Or bring some ear plugs, which are always a good idea in Cambodia anyway.
Construction of a private family suite which accommodates two adults and two children and has its own private pool is currently underway and should be ready early in 2013. The owners also offer three-course table d’hote evening meals for $15 a head, but at the time of my visit these had yet to take off so enquire when booking if the idea of eating in appeals.
Wat Bo Road has a growing selection of reliable eateries and watering holes like Viroth’s Restaurant, and the Soria Moria Hotel which hosts weekly promotions such as its popular $1 tapas night. If you can’t find anything on the doorstep to suit your taste or mood, the bars and restaurants of Pub Street and the Old Market area are less than 15 minutes’ walk away, and the nearest of the town’s night markets is closer still.
If arriving by air, the best way to ensure you can find this tucked-away treasure is to arrange a free airport pick up directly with the hotel when you book. However if you are arriving on spec or overland tell your taxi or tuk tuk driver to head for the Soria Moria Hotel or the Shadow of Angkor ll Guest House and you will find Maison 557 on the other side of the road, within 50 metres of both, opposite the end of Street 25. It’s well worth the effort.
557 Wat Bo Rd, Siem Reap
T: (089) 280 830
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